What-your-migraine-is-saying-about-your-diet

You know the feeling—it starts as a tightening around the eyes and a heaviness around the temples, and before you know it, you’re in the throes of a raging migraine. You could pop a pill, drink water or stay out of the sun, but one thing is for sure—that in a few days, it will be back. “The problem with migraines is that most people think they happen because of external conditions such as stress or strong sun [exposure], but the cause is internal more often than not,” says Shonali Sabherwal, macrobiotic nutritionist and author of books like The Detox Diet and The Beauty Diet. She further explains that there are broadly two kinds of headaches, based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine.

The frontal headache 

What is it?

This type of headache is located around the eyes and temples—basically, as the name suggests, the front part of your face.

Why does it happen?

“This comes out of sources that have an expanding energy in the body, for instance an excessive amount of fruit juices, chocolates or sugar,” says Sabherwal, before explaining that these migraine headaches have an expansive energy that covers the front part of the brain because of this exact reason. “When people get off caffeine and sugar, they also get these headaches because of detoxification, as pain is one of the body’s many mechanisms to throw out toxins.”

The solution to a frontal migraine

To begin with, you have to switch off the foods that you’re abusing. “Some people drink copious amounts of coffee, so we give them a little bit of green tea, which gives the brain tiny amounts caffeine. You can drink ginger tea while you’re having the headache too, as it breaks up stagnated energy.” She also suggests a soupy bowl of khichdi made with brown rice and lots of vegetables, as that will pull the headache down as well. “Vegetables like red pumpkin, beetroot, bottle gourd, yam, have a contracting, pulling energy.” Even a nice soupy broth soup with broccoli, sweet potatoes and onions is a great option.

What to avoid?

Stay clear of fruits, vegetables and green juices. “Frontal headaches need cooked foods, not raw food.” For this reason, a detox or cleanse just doesn’t work for these types of headaches.

The back headache

What is it?

As the name suggests, this is concentrated towards the back, from where it radiates around the skull.

Why does it happen?

“These types of headaches come from too much protein, which has a contracting energy.” So people who are on a high protein or keto diet are more prone to these types of headaches. If you’re eating too many eggs (eight or none) or too much salt (which it is contracting in nature) in a day, or yo-yoing between sugar and protein, you could be susceptible to this type of pain.

The solution to a back migraine

These headaches need something raw, like a carrot juice with one apple in it, or a green juice. “Don’t do fruit juices, as there is too much sugar in them,” adds Sabherwal. She also recommends yin foods (the Chinese term for foods that are believed to be cool and thought to moisten your body) such as cucumbers, cabbage, onion and red pumpkin, with lots of water.

What to avoid?

Obviously, you have to reduce your protein and salt intake. And Sabherwal also suggests avoiding medicine as much as possible for both types of migraines. “The moment you pop a pill, you’re worsening the situation. The best way to treat them is to eat well and then ride it out.” She explains that medicines only suppress migraines; they don’t cure them. “Acne, cough and headaches are your body’s mechanisms of getting rid of toxicity, so allow yourself to get rid of them,” Sabherwal concludes.

Also read:

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